CAO Flathead Steel Horse Apehanger

At the 2015 IPCPR Trade Show, CAO showcased a new addition to its Flathead line called the CAO Flathead Steel Horse. It was back in 2013 when CAO Flathead made its debut. This was a line designed with an automotive theme.  The cigars featured a Connecticut Broadleaf box-pressed line with a very flat cap. The Flathead Steel Horse line extends the theme to appeal to motorcycle enthusiasts. While Flathead Steel Horse features the a signature flat cap, the Steel Horse features an all-new blend with a rounded cigar. Recently, I’ve had an opportunity to smoke the CAO Flathead Steel Horse in a size known as “Apehanger”. Overall I found this cigar delivers another excellent addition into the CAO portfolio.

When the CAO Flathead Steel Horse was announced, CAO Master Blender Rick Rodriguez explained how the project came about, “We came out with Flathead in 2013 because the people I met at CAO events were always talking about cars when they weren’t talking about cigars. Turns out the bikers felt left out. Believe me, I’ve heard all about it. So we decided to come up with a cigar that would appeal to the guys and gals that are into motorcycles. A motorcycle is sometimes referred to as a Steel Horse.

Without further ado, let’s break down the CAO Flathead Steel Horse and see what this cigar brings to the table.

Blend Profile

The blend features a proprietary wrapper known as Connecticut Habano Grueso. In addition it features tobaccos from Brazil, Honduras, Nicaragua, and the Dominican Republic.

Wrapper: Connecticut Habano Grueso (Proprietary)
Binder: Brazilian Arapiraca binder
Filler: Honduran, Nicaraguan, and Dominican
Country of Origin: Nicaragua (Scandinavian Tobacco Esteli)

Vitolas Available

There are two vitolas in the CAO Flathead Steel Horse line. Both are rounded with flat caps and are geared toward larger ring gauge enthusiasts. The cigars are sold in 20 count boxes.

Apehanger: 5 1/2 x 58
Bullneck: 6 1/2 x 66

An Apehanger refers to a set of high handlebars that are  typically found on a chopper. A Bullneck refers to a type of motorcycle frame.


The Connecticut Habano Grueso wrapper of the CAO Flathead Steel Horse Apehanger has a roasted coffee bean color. Upon closer examination, there is a nice amount of dark marbling that can be seen on the surface. I would consider the wrapper of this cigar to be on the oily side. There were some visible veins and thin visible wrapper seams, but overall I considered this to be a smooth wrapper. As noted earlier, the cigar is finished with a very flat cap.

The band to the CAO Flathead Steel Horse is unique to this vitola. It is brown in color with silver font. At the center of the band is a front view of a motorcycle.  Above the center of the motorcycle is the CAO logo, the text “Flathead”, and the text “Steel Horse” – each on a separate line. To the left and right of the motorcycle are wavy lines. Finally the top and bottom of the band is finished with a thick silver stripe.

Each individual cigar is packaged in an individual box shaped like a spark plug box. The box is black and silver in color. The spark plug design box was introduced with the CAO Flathead Sparkplug 450 – a petite robusto line extension to the core, box-pressed Flathead line.


Individual cigar packaging of the CAO Flathead Steel Horse Apehanger

Each of the individual boxes are packaged in a larger 18 count box.


18 count box of CAO Flathead Steel Horse Bullneck (to left is the CAO Flathead Sparkplug packaging in yellow)

Preparation for the Cigar Experience

Given the very flat cap, I opted to use a cigar scissor instead of a guillotine cutter to remove the cap of the CAO Flathead Steel Horse Apehanger. I made a very thin incision to remove the cap and was able to do so with no problem. It was then on to the pre-light draw. The dry draw delivered a mix of coffee bean, raisin, cedar, and earth notes. Overall I considered the pre-light draw of the CAO Flathead Steel Horse Apehanger to be excellent. At this point I was ready to light up this cigar and see what the smoking experience would have in store.

Flavor Profile

The start to the CAO Flathead Steel Horse Apehanger delivered a mix of coffee bean, raisin, and white pepper notes. Early on, the coffee bean and raisin notes moved into the forefront while the white pepper notes became secondary. On the retro-hale, I picked up a mix of white and black pepper.

By the start of the second third this of the Steel Horse Apehanger, the coffee notes got quite smooth. The raisin notes moved into the background joining the white pepper notes. Toward the midway point, some earth notes emerged in the forefront, and this was followed by some vegetal notes. The earth and vegetal notes eventually displaced the coffee notes as primary notes.

During the last third, the earth and vegetal notes were in control. The spice component increased, but it had more of a cedar component than a pepper component. From time to time, the coffee notes did creep into the forefront, but overall it was more of a secondary note. As for the raisin component, it was very subtle. The Steel Horse Apehanger finished up with a nub that was firm to the touch and cool in temperature.

Burn and Draw

I found the CAO Flathead Steel Horse Apehanger took a straight burn path. For the most part the actual burn line was on the straight side. The ash to this cigar had a silvery gray color to it. Perhaps the one negative on this burn is that I found it to have quite a loose ash. I found the combustion to this cigar to be excellent as the Apehanger had an ideal burn rate and ideal burn temperature. Overall minus the loose ash, this burn performed quite well.


Burn of the CAO Flathead Steel Horse Apehanger

The draw to the Steel Horse Apehanger was open, but not loose. The Apehanger also delivered a nice amount of smoke.

Strength and Body

From a strength and body perspective, I found the CAO Flathead Steel Horse Apehanger started out both medium. Both attributes increased slightly along the way, but I still found the strength and body remained medium toward the end. Throughout the smoking experience, I found both attributes balanced either very nicely with neither overshadowing the other.

Final Thoughts

The CAO Flathead Steel Horse Apehanger is a very nice released by CAO. I found this cigar delivered a nice amount of complexity. While I found this cigar to have very good flavor profile, I did enjoy the flavors in the first half more than the second half. Even though the Apehanger is the smaller of the two ring gauges in the Steel Horse line; at a 58 size, this still very much is a big ring gauge. For a big ring gauge, other than the loose ash, this cigar performed quite well for me. It’s a cigar I’d recommend to a novice or experienced cigar enthusiast. As for for myself, it’s a cigar I’d smoke again. It’s worthy of a multi-cigar purchase and having a fiver in your humidor.


Burn: Good
Draw: Excellent
Complexity: High
Strength: Medium
Body: Medium
Finish: Excellent
Assessment: 3.0-The Fiver
Score: 90


News: CAO Steel Horse Showcased at 2015 IPCPR
Price: 8.99
Source: Cigars Provided by Manufacturer, Additional Purchased
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